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Home > Topics > Community Awareness

ER visits spike day after the big game

Medical emergencies include food poisoning, injuries related to excessive alcohol and chronic medical conditions — like high blood pressure — aggravated by football-friendly foods

By Amanda Cuda
Connecticut Post, Bridgeport, Conn.

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — Many people consider Super Bowl Sunday a big event — one they probably started planning for a couple of weeks ago by parsing party invites and shopping for gameday snacks.

But is it a holiday? Most people would say no.

Rock Ferrigno, chairman of the emergency department at Bridgeport Hospital, disagrees. He said the traffic the hospital gets the day after the big game is comparable to what they see on Thanksgiving weekend or around Christmas.

"It's really become an American holiday," Ferrigno said. "And we see the fallout we'd see from any sort of holiday."

That includes food poisoning, injuries related to overindulgence of alcohol and chronic medical conditions -- such as high blood pressure -- aggravated by too many chips, chicken wings and other football-friendly foods.

"It's a real celebration," Ferrigno said. "And with that comes celebrators' remorse."

At nearby St. Vincent's Medical Center in Bridgeport, emergency department chairman Dr. Doodnauth Hiraman also cites the Monday after the Super Bowl as a busy day for doctors. Hiraman attributes that to a variety of factors.

"Mondays are almost always busy, and the Monday after a holiday is particularly busy," Hiraman said.

And yes, he, too considers the Super Bowl a holiday — at least from a medical standpoint.

Typically, when people get non-life-threatening injuries on a holiday, they tend to put off going to the hospital until the party is over. That's true of the Super Bowl and other major sporting events.

In 2009, a doctor from the University of Maryland School of Medicine published a study that showed men, in particular, were less likely to go emergency rooms before, during and two hours after certain football, baseball, college football and basketball games.

That echoes Hiraman's experience.

"On Sunday, it will be quiet," he said. "And Monday's going to be busy."

Like Ferrigno, Hiraman cited overindulgence as a prime driver of post-football emergency department activity.

He said people who consume mass quantities of the fatty and salty foods that "we're supposed to have in moderation" during the big game can experience stomach troubles, or inflame stomach ulcers in those who have them.

"Some people live with some chronic medical conditions and forget all about them during the Super Bowl," Ferrigno said.

Drinking and driving is also concern with these sorts of events, Hiraman said.

"Any time you have a holiday, there's always alcohol," he said. "And after the Super Bowl, people are going to get on the road, so you worry about that."

Another alcohol-related emergency comes from Super Bowl party hosts who don't clean up right away after their festivities.

"People have Super Bowl parties and they don't clean up and they leave the alcohol out," Hiraman said. "The next day, the kids wake up, wander downstairs and see the red cups lying around," often with fruity drinks in them.

The children drink the alcohol and get sick. "That's a common pediatric emergency," Hiraman said.

On a lighter note, another common football-related emergency involves people who overdo it physically before the Super Bowl.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service
"You have the pre-gamers, the weekend warriors who go out and play football before the game, and get the related sports injuries," Hiraman said

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